Mike Adamle tees up the week ahead at Medinah Country Club.
While they won't hit any shots this weekend, the two most scrutinized people during The Ryder Cup will be the two captains, Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal. The camera will pan to them after every important missed putt, every one that's sunk, and they'll be interviewed relentlessly.
There's reason for that. The captain decides who makes the team after the automatic picks. They pair the the players together the first two days. The host one gets to shape the course how he wants. They pick the outfits. They set the schedules. They have to inspire the players. And they have to be everywhere to cheer them on. It's a whirlwind for these guys for a week.
Both are well experienced. Love III on the American side has partaken in this competition six times, though his record of 9-12-5 isn't going to blow anyone's pants off. Love won one major in his playing career, the 1999 PGA. He also won the Players Championship at Sawgrass twice, which is considered the "fifth" major by pretty much everyone. He has 20 PGA wins to his name, and is a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
On the other side, Jose Maria Olazabal has been a Ryder Cup monster for two decades now. He's been a part of this nine times before this one. He has a glittering Cup record of 18-8-5. He and fellow Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros formed the greatest Ryder Cup partnership in history, going 11-2-2. The last time he partook was the 2006 European smackdown of the US at The K Club. Olazabal was also a storyline in the 1999 miracle US comeback, as he was playing Justin Leonard when Leonard holed a putt from a distance of three miles to essentially win the Cup. This caused a wild celebration before Olazabal had a chance to putt, considered extremely unprofessional. As always, Olazabal handled it with class and understanding.
Olazabal is a two-time Masters champion, in 1994 and 1999. The 1999 win was notable as it came after he almost had to give up the game due to pain in his feet that went uncured for a year. His dedication and class have never been questioned. If the Europeans can follow his lead, the US could be in a lot of trouble.